Sixth Sunday in Ordinary time


Sirach 15:15-20
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Matthew 5:20-22a, 27-28, 33-34a, 37


“Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him.”

Sirach, the Hebrew sage puts it to us straight. Yes, before you are life and death, good and evil, and whichever you choose shall be given to you.

What do you choose? What have you chosen? Over the years, you have more than once stood at a crossroads and you have made a choice. Little by little, you have put together a life.

St Paul affirms that the human heart has not imagined what God has prepared for those who love him, for those who choose life.

Jesus affirms that eternal life is for us if we lift our goodness, what we choose in life, above what the clergy of the day have chosen, the scribes and Pharisees.

In real life it is not just one moment, perhaps in youth, when we wake up one morning to a shining vision and reach out our hand to the good.

Today is the 70th anniversary of the day I knelt before the Lord and spoke my choice to seek the good for my whole life as a Passionist. And was that the end of the matter? Was the gift of life mine forever?

Not so fast. Reality asserted itself pretty fast. The very next morning, the bell woke me up feeling tired, and it was a struggle to get out of bed and go to the chapel. Soon enough, some brothers annoyed me and I found myself hitting back, hitting back hard. Wrong choice! So it has gone for seventy years, success and failure, choosing life and choosing the opposite, stumbling along. But the Lord, in his mercy, has lifted me up again and again, and by some miracle, I find myself still on the same road I chose all those years ago.

You have built a life by the choices you have made. You have chosen life again and again, and the Lord will give you what you have chosen.

Jeff Foale is an Australian Passionist living in Vietnam, a former New Guinea missionary with a passion for service of the poor and refugees and who loves life in all its forms and enjoys photography.